Agnes Ngetich celebrates her world 10km record in Valencia (© Sportmedia.es)
Kenya's Agnes Ngetich obliterated the women's world 10km record by running 28:46* at the 10K Valencia Ibercaja, a World Athletics Label road race, on Sunday (14).
The 22-year-old becomes the first woman to break 29 minutes for the distance, improving by 28 seconds the previous road mixed race world record set by Ethiopia’s Yalemzerf Yehualaw in Castellon two years ago. Emmaculate Anyango also dipped under 29 minutes in Valencia, clocking 28:57 to finish runner-up to her compatriot.
The men’s race was won by Uganda’s world cross country champion Jacob Kiplimo in 26:48.
World cross country bronze medallist Ngetich was paced in the Spanish coastal city by her compatriot Japheth Kipkemboi Kosgei and the first world record fell at half way as Ngetich went through the 5km checkpoint in 14:13. That is six seconds faster than the women’s world record achieved in a mixed race, set by Ethiopia’s Ejgayehu Taye in Barcelona in 2021, and matches the time Kenya’s Beatrice Chebet set in a woman-only race in Barcelona a fortnight ago.
Ngetich’s 10km time is also faster than the women's world record for the distance on the track, with Letesenbet Gidey’s world 10,000m record standing at 29:01.03.
Right from the start, the pacemaker set out at a terrific pace to cover the opening kilometres relatively close to the elite men as the trio of Ngetich, Anyango and world 5km silver medallist Lilian Rengeruk went through the 3km point in 8:29. That cadence was maintained as Ngetich reached half way in 14:13, closely followed by Anyango (14:14) and with Rengeruk travelling another 11 seconds back.
A total of 11 women reached 5km under the 15:00 barrier, Uganda's Joy Cheptoyek running in fourth place in 14:49 ahead of a large Kenyan squad which included Irine Cheptai and Janeth Chepngetich. Britain's Jessica Warner-Judd was timed at 14:55, well on schedule to break her fellow Briton Eilish McColgan's European record of 30:19 set in Manchester two years ago.
Hampered by an annoying headwind, the rhythm slowed at the beginning of the second half of the race, with the leaders covering the next kilometres in the 2:54/2:56 region. While Ngetich ran comfortably at the pacemaker's shoulder, the 23-year-old Anyango began to lose ground as the clock read 20:30. A lonesome Ngetich passed the eighth kilometre mark in 23:10 to confirm a monster performance was on the cards.
At the tape, the Iten-based Ngetich made history and she was joined 11 seconds later by Anyango, who also dipped under the 29-minute barrier to run 17 seconds faster than the previous world record.
Ngetich had appeared to break the women-only 10km world record in Brasov last September when she clocked 29:24, but two weeks later the course was found to be short by 25 metres. Bouncing back, the world 10,000m sixth-place finisher triumphed in Lille in November when she managed a lifetime best of 29:26. From then on, the 10K Valencia Ibercaja became Ngetich's focus and that build-up paid off with a stunning world record.
Finishing behind Ngetich in Lille was Anyango, who ran 30:01 - a mark that stood as her PB until her 28:57 performance in Valencia.
To give an idea of the depth of the race, another two contenders – Rengeruk and Chepngetich – managed sub-30:00 performances thanks to their respective times of 29:32 and 29:55 to complete a Kenyan sweep of the top four places, while the 10th-placed finisher Sarah Chelangat of Uganda clocked 30:26. As for Warner-Judd, the 29-year-old Briton was unable to maintain her speed over the second half but still set a massive lifetime best of 30:41 for 12th.
"Honestly, my clear goal was to break the world record but 28:46 is beyond any expectations," said Ngetich. "When I saw 14:13 by half way I didn't scare, it just motivated me a lot to keep on pushing until the end.
"I have no words to describe what I feel now."
Ngetich will now focus on the World Athletics Cross Country Championships Belgrade 24 in March and then the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, where athletics will be the No.1 sport in August.
"I'll be doing the Kenyan trials for Belgrade, where I would like to improve on my bronze medal from last year," she added.
Kiplimo destroys any opposition
The men's race was led by Mohamed Reda for the opening two kilometres, which were covered in 5:17, but once the pacemaker dropped out of the race it was the overwhelming favourite Kiplimo who took command. He led the front pack, which included the unheralded Kenyans Peter Mwaniki Njeru and Dennis Kibet Kitiyo, Bahrain's Birhanu Balew and Switerland's Dominic Lobalu.
Jacob Kiplimo wins the 10K Valencia Ibercaja (© Organisers)
Shortly before the fourth kilometre only Kitiyo managed to follow in Kiplimo's footsteps, the pair going through the 5km checkpoint in 13:20, while Balew, Njeru and Lobalu ran six seconds back. At that stage Lobalu was well ahead of schedule to break his compatriot Julien Wanders' European record of 27:13 set in Valencia four years ago.
When the clock read 15 minutes Kitiyo's brave resistance came to an end and from then on Kiplimo proved to be in a class of his own. His 7km split of 18:35 did, however, suggest that Rhonex Kipruto's world record of 26:24 would remain, despite the Ugandan's efforts.
Finally, the world half marathon record-holder romped home unopposed in a huge career best of 26:48 to move him to fifth place on the world all-time list, while Balew also ducked under 27 minutes thanks to a 26:58 PB. In the fight for third place, Njeru (26:59) managed to overtake Kitiyo (27:01) over the closing stages, while Lobalu was unable to better his 27:09 from last year but did equal the European record of 27:13 and held off a fast-finishing Andreas Almgren, who smashed the Swedish record on his 10km debut with 27:20 for sixth. Spain's Abdessamad Oukhelfen also set a national record of 27:44.
“I came to Valencia to run a fast time and I just did, so I'm quite satisfied,” said Kiplimo. “I'm still doubtful on competing at the World Cross Country Championships in Belgrade as my primary goal this year is the Olympic Games where I would like to double in the 5000m and 10,000m.”
Emeterio Valiente for World Athletics
*Subject to the usual ratification procedure
1 Agnes Ngetich (KEN) 28:46
2 Emmaculate Anyango (KEN) 28:57
3 Lilian Rengeruk (KEN) 29:32
4 Janeth Chepngetich (KEN) 29:55
5 Joy Cheptoyek (UGA) 30:03
6 Loice Chemnung (KEN) 30:08
7 Cintia Chepngeno (KEN) 30:08
8 Irine Cheptai (KEN) 30:17
9 Fotyen Tesfay Hailu (ETH) 30:20
10 Sarah Chelangat (UGA) 30:26
1 Jacob Kiplimo (UGA) 26:48
2 Birhanu Balew (BRN) 26:58
3 Peter Mwaniki Njeru (KEN) 26:59
4 Dennis Kibet Kitiyo (KEN) 27:01
5 Dominic Lobalu (SUI) 27:13
6 Andreas Almgren (SWE) 27:20
7 Mohamed Ismail (DJI) 27:27
8 Rogers Kibet (UGA) 27:33
9 Hillary Chepkwony (KEN) 27:34
10 Dawit Seare (ERI) 27:35